January 22, 2020

Chester Selectmen Adopt New Rules for Town Meeting House

CHESTER— The board of selectmen Tuesday approved new rules and fees for organizations or private groups using the historic Chester Meeting House on Liberty St. The changes, proposed by First Selectman Edmund Meehan, include new fees and a clarification on the dispensing of alcoholic beverages at the structure and surrounding grounds.

The current rules do not address consumption of alcoholic beverages, though some organizations and many private wedding parties renting the structure have served alcoholic beverages. The revised rules prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages, but allow private parties renting the structure to serve alcohol to guests if they provide the town with a certificate of liability insurance for their event. The revised rules also include an 11 p.m. cutoff for activities at the meeting house, earlier than the previous 12:30 a.m. time limit.

There are also increases in the fees for rental of the structure or the surrounding grounds. Free use would continue for town organizations, political groups, and non-profit organizations where there is no admission charge for the group’s program. If admission is charged, non-profit groups and organizations would pay a $200 rental fee.

The rental fee would be $350 for private or for profit organizations holding an event at the meeting house that is open to the public with an admission charge. The fee for closed functions, such as a wedding or a private party, would be $400 for Chester residents and $500 for non-residents. The new rules and fees are scheduled to become effective July 1.

Selectmen also reviewed a formal request for proposals for the lease of the ground floor space at the town hall on Route 154 that will be vacated by the Bank of America at the end of this month. Residents at an April 17 informational meeting cheered an offer by Essex Savings Bank to lease and open a local branch in the soon to be vacant space.

But Meehan noted the town is still required to publish a formal request for proposals notice, though Essex Savings Bank is the only bank to express interest in the space. Letters of response to the request for proposals are due by June 22, with a requirement for the space to be reoccupied by January 2013.

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